Online weather pages upgrade to boost farm management decisions
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s popular online weather pages have a new look, with improved functionality, enhanced data and analysis tools.
Accessing weather data from the site across mobile devices and personal computers is now more consistent, allowing for easier data analysis to make more informed farm management decisions.
The department has used the latest technology to add value to the webpages as part of its eConnected project making the resource more intuitive and easier to navigate.
A dramatic addition has been the option to use ‘dark mode’, which creates a dark background instead of the traditional lighter version.
There has been increasing consumer interest in the use of dark mode, which uses less blue light, has reduced flickering and increases the contrast ratio on the screen making it more accessible.
This results in reduced eye strain and fatigue, improves readability and can be less prone to triggering photophobia or sensitivity to light.
Dark mode has also been shown to save small amounts of electricity, helping to prolong the battery in mobile devices.
At the end of the first week after the introduction of the dark mode on the weather pages, more than 77% of visitors to the site selected the option.
Those that prefer to use the standard theme can still choose to do so.
Weather data analysis
The ‘dashboard’ feature is another recent enhancement, which enables users to more easily and clearly monitor, analyse and compare selected data for each of the department’s 176 weather stations.
The previous text based weather data and summary information for individual weather stations has been replaced by a new, easy-to-read dashboard that presents the information more clearly as graphs and graphics.
The dashboard also provides additional, value-added information, such as the time of minimum and maximum temperature and humidity observations.
From the dashboard, the user can also access charts and tables of historical weather information based on minute, hourly, daily, monthly or yearly data.
Users can also select a range of dates to graph, compare and analyse data.
The data from the tables can also be exported as a CSV file, such as Excel, to other locations, platforms or for printing.
The dashboard is a useful tool to support paddock management decisions, such as time of sowing, fertiliser treatments and the timing of spray treatments.
Value added information
Many of the features on the weather pages have been upgraded to include value added information.
Site users can now select four map layers from the standard map box, including Google hybrid, satellite, streets and terrain, to provide a different perspective according to users’ needs.
Current observations presented on the site’s map of WA weather stations have also been enhanced, with coloured dots showing variability more clearly across the State, particularly for the grainbelt.
Users can view current data for each weather station by clicking on the ‘show values’ button at the base of the selection list on the right hand side of the screen.
The spraying condition data for each weather station has also been improved to include an explanation of how it is determined, using the Delta T system.
A traffic light system has been introduced to clearly show whether current conditions are suitable for spraying, with a green bar indicating preferred spraying conditions, orange showing marginal conditions where suitability is in transition and red suggesting unsuitable conditions.
Another new function allows the user to filter weather stations according to the temperature range. This will be particularly useful when assessing the risk of frost or heat damage, while emergency services will be able to monitor wind conditions using the application during the bushfire season.
Users can overlay the weather station map with real time Doppler radar rainfall information by clicking on one of the five services, including Perth, Newdegate, Watheroo, South Doodlakine and Kalgoorlie.
Additional services at Geraldton, Albany and Esperance will be included in 2019, as the coastal Doppler radar upgrade is completed.
The department will continue to make improvements to its online weather pages in response to stakeholders’ demands.
Users are invited to contribute feedback by clicking on the icon in the top right hand of the screen.
The first of several short videos has been produced to inform users about new features and functionality.
There are also links to other useful climate, land and water decision making aids, including seasonal climate information and the Soil Water, Rainfall to Date and Extreme Weather event tools available from the dashboard.
To get the most out of the enhanced weather pages, the department suggests using the current versions of internet browsers.
The department’s weather pages can easily be accessed from its homepage via the ‘quick links’ to ‘weather stations and radar’ on the right hand side, or by clicking here.
For more information contact Tim Maling, work stream leader, South Perth, +61 (0)8 9368 3987.